Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My year of less is more: I like being more available for my kids, but...it's exhausting!


While there have been so many upsides to simplifying our schedule, on reflection, I've found that it has been quite draining for me.  What I've discovered is that by us having more time to be together, share life together, and by me being more available and less busy, I hear more of what's going on for the kids.  Not just rushing from activity to activity, we have more time to chat about their days.  I see them more, so they share more (or in some cases, less 'sharing' and more 'hurling' of words as they unfurl their frustrations on me).

So that's all lovely.  And what I was hoping we'd have more time for.

But with five kids, I can be going on and off for five hours of these debriefs. As children stumble in through the door throughout the afternoon.  As they finish their assignment and decide NOW they're  on for a chat.  As they remember something AFTER I've turned the lights off (this is common, and being honest, my least favourite form of the debrief - The Patience has left the building ...). And always, just as I think there is a lull and have started to do something of My Very Own (capital letters, because it is a worthy and valuable concept), hello, the next episode of,  'How I feel left out at school', will be aired for my viewing.

As they talk, I have to process it all for myself.  How am I going to respond?  What's the best way to actually help and not aggravate?  Say nothing?  Give advice?  Empathy?  Humour?  Witty story from my own adolescence (accompanied by obligatory teenage eye roll)?  Discipline?  There is a lot of fast thinking going on.  (And as an aside: when people tell me that being a Mum is not very stimulating, times like this go through my head and I do wonder, um, what?!  This stuff hurts my poor brain.)

Sure, as they say, it's all good.  This is all part of sharing life together and learning to understand each other better.  But it is still draining and messes with your head so you start to feel a bit insane after a while.  Actually, now I think about it, it's not all that different to having a toddler asking you maddening questions from dawn to dusk (except they mostly went to bed before 10).

So if you're talking to a mum with school age children who says 'But I need the time they're at school for myself', it's not because they're selfish.  It's actually because they're often working hard to foster new depths of patience and love and wisdom for caring for their kids through this stage.

4 comments:

Mary Winter said...

Thanks, Jenny. This is expressed really well. One of the things I find hardest about teaching is not just physically getting everything done, but making sure I have enough 'in the tank' at the end of the working day to deal with exactly the things you describe here. Because it feels that this is the real stuff of parenting, what I signed up for, but it often happens at the time when I'm most wrung out!

Anonymous said...

Sooo refreshing to hear you say this Jenny. This feels like my constant struggle. I have night owl children too - and I'm not a night person, so am often called on to offer advice/listen/help with assignments way past my bedtime. I'm not great when I'm tired, and I get more stressed hearing about their stuff when it's just before my own bedtime. It makes life feel a bit too relentless. But it also drives me to pray more.

Jenny said...

Oh yes-the days I teach, it is hard to have energy and patience for these conversations. I often fall asleep before the kids!

Just Me said...

This is so true! And because I'm not a writer at all, I've never been able to truly express what I mean by the fact that being a SAHM can actually be so draining, even if they've been gone at school all day - so thank you! I just got back to Perth yesterday, with my two kiddos, after spending a whirlwind 8 days in Minnesota for my sister's wedding. My mom, sister, BIL, two nieces, my two kids and myself crammed in two adjoining hotel rooms for a week just about did my head in! I realized about Day 6 how I hadn't had any peace and quiet to just PROCESS my thoughts and emotions of the week, let alone process all my kids thoughts and emotions either! No wonder I was feeling such a mess!

So glad to be home and let the mundaneness but craziness of SAHM-ness begin again!